By Thea DeLoreto, author of The Lint Trap blog
I have a two year old. A two year who thinks she is 12. Or 22. Or 52. I am not really sure. But she certainly has no idea she is only two. With the limitations that come along with being two. Like not being able to read. Or go up and down stairs with out holding on. Or articulating what you want without speaking in the third person or taking your finger out of your nose.
Apparently being two is super hard. You have all this emotion inside and not many good ways to express it. So instead of saying “please” and “thank you,” there is foot stomping and shrieking. Instead of saying that a meal was enjoyable and you have had a sufficiency, it is better to flip your place mat over and send everything on it flying. Instead of expressing that you are tired and ready for bed, it is more effective to lay on the floor on top of your bunched up blankie sobbing for more milk. It is a beee-otch to be a toddler.
What I have discovered as a mother to one such piece of work, is that when a child hits two they become adept at everything and no longer need a parent’s help to do anything. Or so they think. It is as if someone whispered in her ear on her birthday, “You are a big girl now. Make sure you remind your mommy everyday that you can do it yourself and her help is no longer needed. Make sure to say it in a loud and rather shrill voice. Now go enjoy that overpriced cupcake.”
Where is the sweet child who thanked me for things? She used to have a big smile when her little head popped through the neck of her dress that she let me put on her. Now it is a full out wrestling match to get clothes on the child. The entire time I am putting the clothes on her, she is wriggling out of them, screaming “I DO IT.” Round one involves squalling and flailing while I attempt to get her PJ’s off. I respect that she loves a good pair of “pee-joms” as she lovingly refers to them. I too love my sleepwear, possibly to my detriment. But I understand that they must come off. They are not all-day wear unless you go to all women’s college or you are roomies with Hugh Hefner. Lady Baby does not believe they should come off. Ever. Therefore the struggle to get them off is a bit like removing a pair of footy peejoms from an angry Tasmanian devil who knows how to zip them back up.
After I finally get the jammies off, then begins the real struggle for world domination. Or maybe it is just the struggle of who is going to be in charge of the dressing of Her Highness. I think I should be, since I know how to work a shirt and a pair of leggings. She believes it should be her, even though she is a little fuzzy on exactly which leg goes where and which hole is for your arms and which is for your head. Details. Yesterday, I was done. I gave her the clothes and let her have at it. And have at it she did. At one point she had her leggings on her head (I am not exaggerating) and then later both legs were in one side of the pants.
After twenty minutes she was practically sweating and she finally let me assist. But only a little. She deigned to let me hold open the waist of the pants while she figured out where her feet should go in. Then she allowed me to pull the shirt over her head and then took back over for the navigation of the arm holes. She did work it out, but it was not quick and it was not easy. It was painful for both of us, but for different reasons. Me, because my baby, my sweet love, my one and only, would not let me help her. Her, because it hurts when your shirt is stuck on your head a la Cornholio style.
I know she has to learn and that this is how it happens. I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for her to jerk away when I tried to hold her hand going down steps. Or to swat me when I brushed the hair out of face. In my eyes she is still a baby who needs me *sob*. In her eyes she is grown and independent. I didn’t have a hard time with the first birthday. I was happy to get her off the bottle. I was not emotionally prepared to be told she didn’t need me anymore. “I gave you life,” I tell her. “You will always need me. Or else.”
It is hard to let go a little. It is hard to see the child we carried move toward a life that is her own. It is the natural progression. I get that. I love her fire and her spirit. I love that she is barreling headfirst into life. I just want to slow it down a little. I just want her to want to hold my hand for a little while longer. I want her to let me help her put her shoes on. I want her to stay my baby. Just for a minute longer. But we don’t get a choice.
Time marches on and those little babes grow into people who have their own ideas about how they want things done. I just didn’t expect that to happen when she was two. I didn’t expect her to want to change her own diaper for pete’s sake. Everyday is a challenge of leaning to let her try things. I have to remind myself even the most mundane tasks are new and interesting to her. Slow down, mama, and let the kid learn. The alternative is a public display of personality every 3.2 minutes, which is way way worse for everyone.
So you are welcome, Lady Baby and World at Large. I will suffer for your pleasure.
Can you relate? Share your stories and thoughts!